Eight case studies of community protest and xenophobic violence

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1 The smoke that calls Insurgent citizenship, collective violence and the struggle for a place in the new South Africa. Eight case studies of community protest and xenophobic violence Karl von Holdt, Malose Langa, Sepetla Molapo, Nomfundo Mogapi, Kindiza Ngubeni, Jacob Dlamini and Adele Kirsten

2 Published: July 2011 Copyright 2011 Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Society, Work and Development Institute The smoke that calls: Insurgent citizenship, collective violence and the struggle for a place in the new South Africa. Eight case studies of community protest and xenophobic violence Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation 4th Floor, Braamfontein Centre, 23 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein PO Box 30778, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2017 Tel: +27 (0) Fax: +27 (0) Cape Town Office 501 Premier Centre, 451 Main Road, Observatory, 7925 Tel: +27 (0) Fax: +27 (0) Society, Work and Development Institute Faculty of Humanities University of the Witwatersrand Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050 Tel: +27 (0)

3 The smoke that calls Insurgent citizenship, collective violence and the struggle for a place in the new South Africa. Eight case studies of community protest and xenophobic violence Karl von Holdt: Associate Professor - Director of SWOP, Commissioner - National Planning Commission Malose Langa: Community psychologist - Wits University & CSVR, PhD candidate Sepetla Molapo: PhD fellow - SWOP Nomfundo Mogapi: Clinical psychologist, Trauma & Transition Programme Manager - CSVR, Acting Executive Director - CSVR Kindiza Ngubeni: Senior community facilitator - CSVR Jacob Dlamini: Author, journalist, PhD candidate - Yale University Adele Kirsten: Violence prevention practitioner & public policy analyst, Executive Director - CSVR ( ) July 2011

4 Acknowledgements This innovative research project would not have been possible without the willing and engaged participation of community members across the eight sites. They provided the research team with invaluable information and rich insights into the current dilemmas and challenges facing poor communities across South Africa. The researchers were a dedicated and energetic team who explored creative approaches to gathering information and were mutually supportive of each other s work: Jacob Dlamini, Malose Langa, Moloantoa Molaba, Sepetla Molapo, Kindiza Ngubeni, Hamadziripi Tamukamoyo, Malehoko Tshoedi, and Karl von Holdt. Trudy Ajibogun of CSVR and Christine Bischoff of SWOP ably provided some much-needed administrative support. Professor Jacklyn Cock needs special mention for being a catalyst and helping initiate the project. Her intellectual contribution throughout the duration of the project from the first tentative idea mooted soon after the May 2008 xenophobic attacks to the publication of this report in July 2011 is highly appreciated. Lara Jacob for her rigorous editing of the sprawling text presented by the researchers. Sally Dore of Design Aid for her ability to meet unrealistic deadlines with equanimity, and for the creativity of her design. And finally a very big thank you to the donors The Royal Norwegian Embassy and the C.S. Mott Foundation for their enthusiastic support of this project and without whom this important work could not have been undertaken.

5 Contents Acknowledgements Acronyms and Abbreviations 1 Introduction 2 Overview: Insurgent citizenship and collective violence: analysis of case studies 5 Case Studies Voortrekker: The smoke that calls 33 Kungcatsha: Sending a message to the top 45 Azania: Violence is the only language that this governement knows 57 Slovoview: Citizenship, the Nation and collective violence in South Africa after Apartheid 70 Gladysville: Xenophobic violence in South Africa after Apartheid 83 Trouble: Mobilising against xenophobic attacks 97 Bokfontein: The nations are amazed 106 Collective violence and collective trauma: The traumatic past of Apartheid and the paradox of the new democracy 119 Recommendations 130 Bibliography 133

6 Acronyms and Abbreviations ANC BDF CDW CSVR CG CPF COPE COSATU CT CWP DA DG DRA DSMIII DUSA EPWP FAWU FET IEC IFP GCRO MEC NGO NIA OW OWC PAC PASO PAYCO PEC PTSD RDP REC SANCO SACP SDU SRC SWOP TRC UDM VIP VVIP WHO ZANU-PF ZAPU African National Congress Bokfontein Development Forum Community Development Workers Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Concerned Group Community Policing Forum Congress of the People Congress of South African Trade Unions Collective Trauma Community Work Programme Democratic Alliance Director-General Displaced Residents Association Diagnostic Statistical Manual III Democratic Union of South Africa Extended Public Works Programme Food and Allied Workers Union Further Education and Training Independent Electoral Commission Inkatha Freedom Party Gauteng City-Region Observatory Member of Executive Council Non-Governmental Organisation National Intelligence Agency Organisational Workshop Organisational Work Crew Pan African Congress Pan African Students Organisation Pan African Youth Congress Provincial Executive Committee Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Reconstruction and Development Programme Regional Executive Committee South African National Civics Organisation South African Communist Party Self-Defence Units Student Representative Council Society Work and Development Institute Truth and Reconcilation Commission United Democratic Front Very Important Person Very Very Important Person World Health Organisation Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Zimbabwe African People s Union 1

7 Introduction Project Leaders: Adele Kirsten and Karl von Holdt There are several innovations to the research projects captured in this report. Firstly, it consists of studies of both xenophobic violence and community protests, drawing the links both empirically as one of collective action spawns or mutates into another, and theoretically through the concept of insurgent citizenship (Holston, 2008). Secondly, the research was conceived of, and conducted, through a collaboration between an NGO, The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) and an academic research institute, the Society Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at University of the Witwatersrand. This brought together scholars and practitioners, psychologists and sociologists, in a challenging and productive partnership to try to understand collective violence and its underlying social dynamics. Thirdly, it combines an attempt to probe and understand the repertoires and meanings of collective violence with a wide-ranging analysis of local associational life, local politics and class formation. The origins of this research lay in the appalling violence of the wave of xenophobic attacks which swept across the country in May 2008, and the response of both organisations to this. CSVR was rapidly drawn into coordinating the relief work of NGOs across Gauteng, while in SWOP there was a sense that this violence connected to current research on strike violence and social precariousness. For both of our organisations, it seemed increasingly important to look at this outbreak of violence with a fresh eye for ways in which it challenged our understanding of the depths of anger, fragmentation, exclusion and violence in our society and, more specifically, the intervention practices which still drew much of their inspiration from the negotiated transition to democracy in South Africa. Ready assumptions about violence as pathological or criminal, about lost generations, about community organisations and civil society, conflict mediation and educational workshops, needed to be tested with empirical research and new theoretical perspectives. While we were developing the research proposals and beginning discussions with potential funders, a new wave of conflict swept across the country, with the epicentre as in the xenophobic violence in Gauteng. The community protests against poor service delivery, corruption and the lack of consultation with communities by government often flared into violence between protesters and police, and not infrequently involved episodes of xenophobic violence as well. The research project was re-conceptualised to explore the differences and linkages between these different forms of collective action and violence and, with funding secured, researchers were in the field in late Our research methodology was designed to achieve the benefits both of in-depth qualitative research to explore the meanings, relationships and contestations within a specific research site, and the insights of comparative perspectives across research sites. The small team of researchers researched a diverse selection of eight different sites in two provinces over the following year, with each researcher being involved in at least two research sites, so that all researchers were fully alive to the comparative dimension of the research. A combination of key informant and snowballing selection was used to identify interviewees, and researchers also employed participant observation, attending meetings, rallies and parties, as well as hanging out in taverns and homes. Jacob Dlamini s influence on our research strategies requires particular mention, as he used his sharply honed newshound skills to conduct impromptu interviews and informal focus groups on street corners, in taxis and taverns, and at 2

8 community water points. Other researchers learned from this, and applied similar research tactics in their sites. Caroline Moser s community mapping research strategy helped us to think through the implications of this (Moser & McIlwain, 2004). We have committed ourselves to maintaining the confidentiality of informants, given the sensitive and controversial nature of the information they provided us, which could expose them to considerable danger from local elites and rivals. Hence, we have attempted to conceal not only individual identities, but also the identity of research sites. We trust that readers will bear with this sometimes cumbersome requirement. The overall comparative analysis, as well as the insights of the more detailed site case studies, is explored in the body of this report. Here, we would like to draw attention only to four key observations that strike us when we consider the report as a whole. The first is the critical role played by the police in collective violence a peculiar combination of absence and unnecessary and provocative violence. Regarding their absence, the initial role of the police in our studies of xenophobic violence as in studies by others was the lack of a serious effort on their part to prevent attacks or protect foreign nationals in the early stages of violence. They seemed only to move into action after the first fury of mob attacks, and then only in tandem with local organisations such as ANC branches or CPFs. A similar absence is registered in, at least, one of the community protest episodes, when the local police told councillors whose houses were attacked and destroyed that it was not their job to protect them. On the other hand, our studies of community protests show that police actions escalated confrontation and tension which rapidly took the form of running street battles between protesters and police officers. There was widespread condemnation in communities of provocative violence against crowds of protesters on the part of police. Even more troubling were the incidents of random assault and allegations of torture against suspected protest leaders and their families in some of the communities reports and allegations that have been repeated in more recent protests, such as those at Ermelo and Ficksburg where protest leader Andries Tatane died at the hands of the police. The police are, therefore, critically important protagonists in collective violence, both when they are absent from scenes of mass violence, and when they themselves engage in collective violence against protesting communities. Second, the counterpart to the police as protagonists is the role of the youth, mostly young men but including young women, in collective violence, both in spearheading xenophobic attacks as well as engaging in battles with the police and destroying public property during community protests. This is not a new observation, but it is nonetheless an important one. Many of those who participate in the violence are unemployed, live in poverty, and see no prospect of a change in these circumstances. Theirs, they feel, is a half-life, as they are unable to participate as full citizens in the economy and society. Impoverished young men, in particular, experience this as the undermining of their masculinity as they are unable to establish families. Protest provides them with an opportunity to exert their masculinity through violence and to experience themselves as representing the community and fighting on its behalf. Unless widescale strategies for social and economic inclusion address this issue, social fragmentation and violence is likely to continue. A third observation concerns the interface between sociology and psychology. In many ways these two disciplines are difficult to bring together because of the contrasting questions they ask and their divergent narratives. However, concepts of collective trauma explored in the chapter by Nomfundo Mogapi seem to provide a way of addressing this disjunction and finding common ground. This is a new field certainly to us and holds out promise for future research and analysis that enables us to explore this interface at a deeper level. 3

9 Finally, we want to draw attention to the significance of the Bokfontein study. While most of the studies focus their attention on the ugliest dimensions of local politics and the competition for resources, Bokfontein provides a reminder of what is possible in South Africa. The Community Work Programme (CWP) enabled a very traumatised and marginalised community to address both the collective trauma and its supporting narratives, and imagine a different future for themselves and at the same time provided avenues for young people to focus their energies on participating in a collective effort to transform their communities. One of the results was the end of intra-community violence and the deliberate rejection of xenophobic violence achieved, it must be said, without any police action at all. After the immersion in the perversity and desperation of much human endeavour in our society, it was profoundly inspiring for our research team to encounter this place of hope with its combination of visionary and practical agency. Truly, the nations will be amazed! 4

10 Overview Insurgent citizenship and collective violence: analysis of case studies Karl von Holdt Local community protests have spread across South Africa since 2004, with a dramatic upsurge in 2009 and 2010, as the record of larger and more visible protests captured by Municipal IQ demonstrates (see Fig. 1). At the same time, protests have become increasingly violent, marked by the destruction of public and private property, and confrontations between armed police and stone-throwing crowds. While protest action showed a small reduction from 2007 levels in 2008, the latter year was indelibly marked by the eruption of concentrated xenophobic violence against foreign Africans, which started in Alexandra and spread across the country. Over a two-week period, foreign nationals were attacked in at least 135 locations, at least 61 people were killed, of whom 21 were South Africans, either mistaken for foreign nationals or associated with them on the basis of ethnicity, and over 100,000 people were displaced (Misago et al., 2010: 9, 164). Figure 1: Community protests by year Number of protests Source: Municipal IQ 5

11 Xenophobic attacks differ from community protests against government in their levels of violence and their targets, claims, impact and some of their repertoires, yet there are significant common features as well: the same or similar organisations may be involved, there are common repertoires, both are instances of collective popular agency and violence, both involve grievances about state actions or inactions, and community protests frequently include an element of xenophobic attacks on foreign-owned businesses. These similarities, as well as differences, suggest that it may be fruitful to compare and contrast these two different forms of subaltern collective agency, not least because of the possibility that new combinations of anti-government and anti-foreigner violence may emerge in future. This overview chapter draws on eight case studies by a research team, which conducted in-depth research into collective violence in communities. As the table below indicates, the research sites consisted of a mix of small rural towns, large urban settlements originating in informal settlements, partially upgraded with RDP housing, an urban formal township, and a rural informal settlement, all within a radius of 500km from Johannesburg. In all of the research sites both community protests (often violent), and xenophobic attacks took place, or were associated with each other; in some cases the community protests were primary, with xenophobic attacks taking a secondary form as an adjunct to the main activity; in others xenophobic attacks were primary, but were either sparked off by community protests, or took place in a context of frequent such protests. In two cases, local groups worked actively to prevent the xenophobic attacks, and in one of these protests were peaceful, while in the other the community leadership rejected protests as a strategy. This chapter explores the patterns of similarity and difference across the community protests, the xenophobic attacks, and between both. Table 2: Research sites Site Type Primary Violence Secondary Violence Voortrekker Rural town Community protest Xenophobic attacks Kungcatsha Rural town Community protest Xenophobic attacks Azania Rural town Community protest Xenophobic attacks Slovoview Urban/RDP/Informal Xenophobic attacks Community protest Gladysville Urban/RDP/Informal Xenophobic attacks & community protest Trouble Urban/RDP/Informal Xenophobic attacks & community protest Ndabeni 1 Urban formal Xenophobic violence Peaceful protests prevented Bokfontein Rural informal Xenophobic violence Local development, prevented no protest The paper concludes that rapid processes of class formation through which on the one hand a new elite is emerging and, on the other, a large underclass of unemployed and precariously employed, together with the dislocations of the transition from apartheid to democracy is generating fierce struggles over inclusion and exclusion both within the elite, between elites and subalterns, and within the subaltern classes themselves. These struggles are in part marked by contestation over the meaning and content of citizenship. While the processes of class formation are producing what Hanson (2008: 7 9) calls differentiated citizenship which distributes treatment, rights and privileges differentially among formally equal citizens according to differences of education, 1 The Ndabeni study could not be written up in time for this research report; however, some of the insights from it are incorporated into this overview chapter. 6

12 property, race, gender and occupation subaltern groups respond by mobilising an insurgent citizenship around claims that destabilise the differentiated. The insurgent civil society of the struggle against apartheid during the 1980s established violent practices as an integral element of civil society mobilisation and of struggles for citizenship, so it is not surprising that similar repertoires of violence are apparent in current insurgencies over citizenship and exclusion. However, these insurgencies do not constitute an unproblematic notion of expanded citizenship. They have a darker side too, reproducing patriarchal prejudices, xenophobic exclusion, and the use of violence in political and social disputes and to buttress local power practices which corrode, undermine and restrict the basis of citizenship. Community protests, collective violence and the associational practices that underlie them are ambiguous and contradictory in their implications for citizenship and democracy. Struggles over the meaning of citizenship are at the same time struggles over rank, status and power. The instability, fluidity and contestation that characterises the struggles within and between elites and subalterns generates uncertainty and contestation over the markers of status, power, hierarchy and authority, giving rise to what Dlamini calls the politics of excess (Dlamini, 2010 and the chapter on Kungcatsha and Voortrekker of this document) and conspicuous consumption. Our case studies reveal struggles over the symbolic order (Bourdieu, 2000), which structures the meaning and hierarchies of distinction in post-apartheid South Africa. The case studies indicate that the ANC itself, as the locus of many of these struggles and contestations, has become a profoundly unstable organisation. This has ramifications across state and society. These very dislocations, instabilities and contestations in social relations, and in the meanings of these relations, tend to give rise to the practices of violence in struggles over social order and hierarchy. The processes and dislocations of rapid class formation, the fierce struggles within and between elites and subalterns, the tensions between differential and insurgent citizenship, the instabilities and contestations over hierarchy, status and social order, and the prevalence of violence in social and political conflict, together give rise to a precarious society. A precarious society is characterised by social fragmentation and competing local moral orders which not only generates precarious lives, but a social world in which society itself becomes precarious. This overview chapter develops this analysis through three steps. The first section provides an outline and comparison of the dynamics of community protest and xenophobic violence in the case studies. The second develops an analysis of the structural forces and processes of class formation and differential citizenship at play in the communities we researched. The third focuses on the dynamics of subaltern collective violence. Finally, the conclusion returns to discussion of precarious society, citizenship and violence. Trajectories of protest: repertoires, organisers, crowds, aftermath In this section we examine first the trajectories of community protests in our case studies, and then the trajectory of the xenophobic attacks. Community protest A typical protest A more or less typical story is that of Voortrekker. 2 The protests started in response to a sports day organised in April 2009 by the town council, which had set aside R 150,000 to pay for prizes. When the promised prizes failed to materialise, a group of residents, including local ANC leaders, came together to form the Concerned Group (CG), which convened a mass meeting in the local stadium and recruited more members. The CG claimed 2 Refer to the relevant chapters in this report or to the underlying research reports drafted by the team of researchers. 7

13 to be addressing corruption and service delivery failures on the part of the town council, but there were allegations that it had been formed to strengthen one faction in recent divisions that had emerged within the council. After the mass meeting the CG, now numbering 30, organised a march to the local municipal offices to present a memorandum of grievances to the council, as well as faxing them to the provincial premier s office and that of the president of the ANC. A week later, the premier visited the town and held discussions with the CG, promising to attend a mass meeting of the town s residents a week later, and even providing some cash for pamphlets. On the day of the meeting, a Sunday at the end of June, thousands of residents, young and old, men and women, gathered in the stadium at the scheduled time of 8 a.m. The officials arrived only at 1:30 p.m. and, though they included members of the provincial cabinet as well as the mayor and local town councillors, the premier himself was absent. The cabinet members attempted to address the crowd, but were angrily shouted down. A representative of the CG then addressed the crowd, echoing their shouts that the delegation should voetsek. 3 Bodyguards whisked the politicians and officials from the stadium in their 4x4s, which the crowd showered with stones. The meeting then decided that the CG would go to the ANC head office in Johannesburg and request the president to visit the town, and that in the meantime the community would launch a work stay-away and make the township ungovernable, actions that were immediately recognisable from the days of anti-apartheid resistance. That evening protesters erected barricades of burning tyres around the township, which police, armed with tear gas and rubber bullets, tried to dismantle. During the night municipal buildings, including the clinic, the public library, the community hall and municipal offices in the township, were torched. The following day all access roads were barricaded and most residents stayed away from work. In the course of the day the crowds torched the houses of three councillors, including the mayor. A 29-year-old man was shot dead by the guards at the mayor s house, and later a 21-year-old man was killed by a bullet fired from a car full of police and traffic officers. In retaliation, a crowd attacked and burnt down the house of a fourth councillor they believed to be responsible. Video footage shows this particular crowd singing Tambo, kumoshekile. Bayasithengisa. (Tambo, 4 things are bad. We are being sold out). During the course of the protests, foreign traders in the township were hounded out and their shops looted. The following day the premier arrived and addressed the community at the local stadium, announcing that the town council would be suspended and placed under administration. A week later the premier was booed and jeered when he arrived at the stadium for the funeral of one of the young men who had been shot. Chaos ensued when the driver of a small van lost control and ploughed into the crowd, killing a 71-year-old woman. The driver fled the angry crowd which then set the van alight. The premier and mayor fled the stadium. With the council under administration, some members of the CG resigned, feeling they had achieved their goals, while others developed a close relationship with the administrators. The CG was given the job of clearing the sites of the destroyed buildings to pacify them in the words of an administrator, and members of the CG were given R100,000 to travel to Johannesburg to buy trophies, kit and other items for a new sporting tournament to be called the Peace Cup. A portion of this money was spent by CG members on tracksuits for themselves. The case of Voortrekker illustrates many of the dynamics that are common across the case studies: the repertoires of protest; the prominence of ANC figures, together with ordinary residents, among the organisers of protest; the intersection of divisions among ANC councillors in the local town council with popular grievances against the council; grievances including allegations of corruption, indifference and lack of service delivery; trigger moments when indifference on the part of authorities towards the grievances and peaceful protests of the community become palpable and publicly visible; appeals to authority beyond the local level; a turn to violence provoked or exacerbated by police violence; and an aftermath in which the balance of power within the local 3 Insulting Afrikaans term meaning Bugger off. 4 Oliver Tambo was ANC president during the anti-apartheid struggle. 8

14 ANC is reconfigured, the protest leadership are reabsorbed into the ANC, and what had appeared to be local social movements or civil society organisations whither away. There are, of course, variations on these themes between the case studies as well. In what follows we explore each of these themes in turn. Repertoires The repertoires of protest in Kungcatsha included mass meetings in the stadium, marches in support of a petition, and when the premier failed to arrive, an escalation to a work stay-away, barricading of streets, street battles with the police, the burning down of councillors houses and council buildings, and the looting of foreignowned shops in the township. In Kungcatsha there were peaceful protest marches over several years, mass meetings, including in the stadium, and then a work stay-away, barricaded streets, street battles between police and youths, and the burning down of council buildings and a councillor s house. In this case, the violent protests continued for two weeks and included looting foreigners shops, stoning cars, barricading a nearby highway and exacting toll fees from traffic, and a march to deliver a petition in the town centre. One young man was killed, allegedly while looting a foreigner s shop. In Azania, participants referred to a long history of protests dating back to In 2009 the tempo increased, with marches and mass meetings held in the stadium, and a growing frustration about the indifference of the mayor and the town council. Violence was sparked when a large number of police confronted the crowds after a meeting in the stadium and running street fights erupted between youths and police, barricades went up and shops owned by Ethiopians were looted. This lasted a couple of days. About two weeks later President Zuma and a team of Cabinet ministers visited the town to investigate, but about six months later, in the absence of any progress, a new round of mass meetings and marchers began. Again the mayor failed to arrive, the police started firing with rubber bullets, and street fighting and barricading followed. The township library was burnt down, computers were stolen and foreign-owned shops were looted. In Trouble, an RDP settlement where there are no municipal buildings, protest crowds barricaded streets and tried to destroy a nearby regional road after a meeting of community leadership in a school, that took place under the watchful eyes of the Metro police. This rapidly turned into running street battles between police and young protesters. The primary target of the protests was the local ANC councillor, who was alleged to be involved in corruption with the local SANCO branch and to be refusing to attend branch meetings or submit accounts to the local ANC leadership. But the protest only lasted a day, and then the ANC branch and Youth League reverted to using internal ANC channels to address their grievances. The similarity, in the repertoires of protest across the case studies, is quite striking. The organisers There were variations in the composition of the protest organisers across the case studies, but a similarity in the leading role played by ANC figures in all of them. In Voortrekker the CG grew from a handful of friends who were ANC members to 30 at the height of the protests, including civil servants such as teachers, a prison warden, government clerks and traffic cops, as well as spaza shop owners and some unemployed. The majority were ANC members, including figures such as branch treasurer, branch chairperson, and former associates of the mayor, as well as an IFP member and convicted murderer, a drug dealer and churchgoers. Several informants maintained that the group was formed by the mayor to support her in her fallout with the council speaker and the town manager. Some joined to fight corruption, and others because they hoped it would open doors to jobs, and it was known that others were aggrieved because their access to lucrative tenders had dried up. In Kungcatsha, in contrast, no independent group was established to lead the protests. It was a group of ANC Youth League activists who got together and planned the mobilisation of the community in protest against the alleged disappearance of a sum of R30 million from the town council. Of the three leaders interviewed for our research, one was also an executive member of the SACP and a beneficiary of council tenders, a second was a 9

15 trade unionist and Youth League activist, and the third was an engineer with an independent company. Here too the eruption of protest was linked to divisions within the town council, with allegations that the speaker was feeding confidential information to the protest organisers as part of his effort to undermine the mayor. Trouble was a similar case, with protests led and organised by the ANC Youth League branch and supported by the ANC branch. The primary demand was for the recall of the local ANC councillor. Neither the CPF nor SANCO (which supported the councillor) were involved in the protests. Azania was different again, as the SACP and the PAC, which is unusually strong in this town, provided a relatively independent, organisational base for the protests. Protests were led by youth leaders from both organisations, by the Pro-Gauteng Committee, in which activists from both organisations were prominent, as well as by a landless movement organised by the PAC. The ANC was divided in this town between those who were in the leadership of the council and those who were active in the SACP, and the council faction was excluded from the protests alliance. The local ANC leadership accused the SACP of trying to overthrow the ANC in the town and of making opportunistic alliances with the PAC, and alleged that the protests were driven by a former ANC councillor and tender-businessman who was aggrieved because the council had blacklisted his business for failing to deliver on contracts. Grievances and triggers The grievances articulated by the protest movements show a strong similarity with local inflections. In three of the cases the disappearance of large sums of money from the council were central grievances, amplified by a litany of grievances about intermittent and dirty water supply, the inadequacy of recreational facilities and failure to maintain them, lack of jobs, nepotistic employment practices, lack of houses, failure to complete council contracts to build houses and roads, and generally inadequate services. In the fourth case, a similar set of grievances were aggregated in the demand for the town to be re-demarcated from Mpumalanga to Gauteng because of the proximity of Gauteng public services such as hospitals and licensing offices. In all the cases, the perceived arrogance and indifference of local or provincial authorities the failure of a mayor to accept a petition, the lack of response to complaints, the failure of the provincial premier to arrive as promised, the refusal of the councillor to meet the local ANC branch was a major source of frustration and anger. In both Kungcatsha and Azania there had been several years of peaceful protest over various issues, whereas this was not the case in Voortrekker or Trouble. In all four towns in 2009 the protests intensified and became violent. What served to trigger these shifts? The trigger-factors are complex and have several interrelated elements, but show a remarkable similarity in the four studies. In all four there was a shift in power relations within the town council and the local ANC, marked by open conflict between key figures within these structures, such as the mayor and speaker, or rival political figures in the ANC, which created the opportunity for outsider figures in the ANC or Tripartite Alliance to engage in struggles to reconfigure power relations. Other trigger elements served to convert private troubles into more visible public concerns at a more popular level the disappearance of prize money at a sports event, the surfacing of a forensic audit into a missing sum of R30 million, the refusal of the mayor to accept a petition from marching protesters, the threatened water and electricity cut off for payment defaulters, the community gathered in a sports stadium waiting in vain for the premier to appear, the failure of a presidential intervention to have any effect, allegations of political involvement in the theft of electricity cable. Frustration with the indifference and unresponsiveness of authority to the plight of the community was in all cases a critical element, as a young man in Kungcatsha made clear: People of this township are very patient, but this time they were very angry. They were sick and tired of waiting. And a member of the CG in Voortrekker said: That the houses were burnt down was the mistake of the premier. He promised 10

16 to come but did not. Finally, the full-force appearance of police units from outside the local police service on the scene was often the signal for a shift to violent repertoires, usually in response to police violence. The importance of local conflict within the ANC/town council may provide a clue for the upsurge of largescale protest actions in 2009 and 2010: the bigger struggles within the national ANC, marked by the ousting of Thabo Mbeki as ANC leader at Polokwane in December 2007 and the ascendancy of Jacob Zuma to the presidency of the country in the elections of mid-2009, symbolised the intensity of internal conflict across the ANC, simultaneously giving rise to the rhetoric and hope of change and legitimated internal struggle and factionalism. As one respondent in Voortrekker put it: It s become a style if they could recall Mbeki, they can recall a councillor. Leaders and crowds Relationships among protest leaders, and between leadership and crowds, were a complex and opaque terrain in the three case studies, made murkier by allegations, counter-allegations and rumours. Amongst the leaders there were diverse motivations, with some regarding protest as an opportunity to oust their opponents in the town council and reconfigure power relations in the ANC so as to gain, or regain, positions of power and access to lucrative council business, while others appeared to be genuinely concerned to struggle against corruption and incompetence. Protest leadership were mobilising popular anger, and there was a tension between the subaltern crowds who were protesting against corruption and for improved material conditions and services by attending mass meetings and marches, and engaging the police in street battles, and those in the leadership who were pursuing their own agendas. The subaltern crowds were well aware of these agendas. In the words of young male protesters from Kungcatsha: It is not service delivery, but people are just fighting for tenders, but using the community to do so. Some of the leaders were angry that they were no longer getting tenders and then they decided to mobilise the community against the municipality. This cynicism about the motivations of the leadership did not undermine popular mobilisation, however; as one participant said: I have never seen such a big march in the history of the township everyone was there. Drawing from this evidence, Langa argues that the protest movements are constructed through the agency of both the political entrepreneurs who use community members to fight their political battles, and the community members, who strategically use political entrepreneurs to present their grievances to relevant offices because of their understanding of local politics (see chapter on Kungcatsha). Crowds within crowds Subaltern protest took the form of crowds that shifted shape as the forms of direct action shifted from public meeting to marches to street battles with police to the burning down of selected targets or the looting of foreignowned shops. We use the term crowds within crowds or riots within riots to explore these shifting shapes of subaltern direct action. At public meetings in sports stadiums and community halls a cross-section of the community was generally present young, middle-aged and elderly men and women. When the call came to set up barricades and marshal a work stay-away the crowd took the shape of young men and women, although the call was generally issued at a more representative public meeting; thus it could be said that this crowd had received the mandate for direct action in the streets from the community as a whole. When the police arrived and deployed violence the larger crowds broke up into smaller crowds composed of young men engaging in running battles with the police. We know less about the kind of crowd that burnt down council buildings or councillors homes, although video footage from Voortrekker shows young men and women chanting together as they toyi-toyi 5 towards a house, where the men are later seen wielding vuvuzelas and throwing stones at the 5 A war-like protest march 11

17 burning house with the women looking on in the background. Many from the crowd are also involved in the looting of the shops of foreign nationals. Different crowds have different leaders at different times. In Kungcatsha, for example, the man known as the leader of the protests, an ANC Youth League and SACP activist, and tender businessman, seemed all-powerful during the protests, but was not a candidate in the by-elections that succeeded them. Participants in the protests explained that this was a man to lead strikes, but not to lead the community and not someone they could vote for. He was a militant and persuasive speaker in public meetings, but lacked the credibility to be a leader in any other sense. Other figures emerged from the protest leadership as serious contenders for nomination in the byelections. On the other hand, another group of leaders comes to the fore in the crowds that wage street battles with police, or burn buildings or loot computers from a burning library. One such leader in Azania was active in the youth congress in high school before he dropped out, and admits that he is a heavy dagga smoker and drinker. More work does need to be done on the nature of the subaltern crowds in community protests and in xenophobic violence, and on the relationship between different crowds within crowds. In some circumstances it seems that the crowds that emerge in violent actions have some kind of broad mandate to undertake these actions on behalf of the larger and more heterogeneous crowd that represents the community in public gatherings, and that was certainly the understanding of the young protesters in Trouble; the more formal and visible leadership that leads public gatherings clearly has an implicit understanding at some points that their actions will lead to violence (see Dlamini 2010; chapter on Voortrekker), and that there are militant activists among the youth who will undertake that violence. The moral meanings of violence are complex and contested though, and the formal leadership is quick to condemn collective violence as the work of criminals, leaving themselves blameless. Community members also expressed ambivalence and contradictory views towards some forms of violence, as we will see below. What all of these cases show is that the subaltern crowd is a complex and heterogeneous phenomenon, with different leadership nuclei animated by a range of different motivations. Aftermath The aftermath of violent protest is as important for understanding the protests and the social forces that shape them, as the origins and dynamics of the protests themselves. The aftermath in each of the case studies was different, but revealed common underlying themes. In three cases there were highly visible responses from senior ANC political figures, to no response to the short lived protest in Trouble. To take them in chronological sequence because the interventions from high levels of the ANC brought these protests onto the national stage, bringing each intervention into relationship with previous and following interventions in Voortrekker, the provincial premier arrived 24 hours after the outbreak of violent protest, and announced the suspension of the town council and that it was to be placed under administration. A probe was announced into the allegations of corruption, which led to the suspension four months later of two councillors and several senior managers. In Azania, a week after the first round of violent protest President Zuma arrived in town with a team of ministers to meet with the local councillors, and announced initiatives to improve service delivery, create job opportunities and establish a training college in the town. In Kungcatsha, after two weeks of violent protest during which the ANC resisted calls from the community to intervene, a high profile ANC national team arrived and announced the recall of the entire mayoral executive. In Azania, after the second round of violence protest had broken out six months after the first round, President Zuma again arrived with a team of ministers in order to announce progress with service delivery. In Azania, unlike the other two, there was no attempt to take action on the allegations against the ANC mayor and local councillors, possibly because the ANC feared that the PAC, which was unusually strong here and was prominent in the protest movement, might be able to take advantage of this. 12

18 In each case, protest leaders had responded to the indifference of the local town council by addressing their grievances to a higher power, the ANC leadership beyond the local level, in the hopes that their grievances would be heard and acted upon at that level. When the provincial or national ANC leadership did respond, and arrived in town to make their decisions known, they presented a performance of political power, announcing the suspension of councillors and an investigation of allegations in two cases, and, in the third, announcing high-level interventions to improve service delivery. In two of the cases, crowds responded by disrupting the performance of political power because of what they regarded as an inadequate response. In Voortrekker, crowds shouted down the provincial team when it arrived without the premier, and stoned their vehicles as they hastily left. A couple of weeks later, after announcing the suspension of the town council, the premier attended the funeral of the two protesters who had been killed, where he was again greeted with jeers and boos. Azania offers the clearest case of political performance and disruption. President Zuma s visit after the first round of protest left the protest leadership angry, because he had confined his engagement to the leadership of the town council, failing to engage with the protesters or the rest of the community. For his second visit, Zuma and his team of ministers spent three hours meeting with the councillors and municipal officials, and then went to the stadium to address the community. The political performance was one that emphasised the authority and power of the President and his cabinet, displayed publicly in the choreography of the motorcade of powerful cars and bodyguards, and the rally in the stadium, and within the echelons of the state by the hierarchy of distinction between VIPs and VVIPs and their different lunches, and no doubt the displays of deference and authority in the three-hour meeting. They had come to announce the progress they had made in building houses and solving other problems, and there was no space for the participation of the protest leadership or township residents. Their role in the performance was to simply provide an audience. The stadium was filled to capacity with an audience, but it was a rowdy crowd which repeatedly disrupted proceedings by chanting and singing, while waving flags of the PAC, the ANC and the SACP, despite the pleas of officials as well as the President. The subaltern crowds used the performance of ANC and state power to stage a counter performance of disruptive power which clearly discomforted Zuma. At the end of the meeting, in a highly ambiguous moment, the crowd started singing Zuma s hallmark war song, Mshini wami, which Zuma immediately took up and led. Here Zuma was attempting to reclaim as a militant freedom fighter and man of the people that is, from a position outside of the state the authority that the crowd denied him in his role as the head of a state, which was indifferent, denied them a voice, and failed to provide for their needs. 6 But who was dancing to whose tune here, and what did it signify about the crowd s willingness to resort to violence against state authority, and about Zuma s claim to be the leader of militancy? In Kungcatsha and Azania the removal and resignation of councillors led to by-elections. Elections provide another space for both the state and subalterns to perform the power and the limits of the state. In both towns there were intense struggles over who would be nominated as the ANC candidates, and the subaltern classes were able to profoundly shape the meaning of the elections, but in dramatically different directions. In Kungcatsha the struggle over nomination took place between candidates nominated by the protest leadership who were themselves prominent ANC Youth League activists and candidates regarded as representatives of the old guard against whom they were pitted in struggle; in the end, the protesters won. A similar struggle in Azania ended with the regional ANC structure imposing a third candidate. In Kungcatsha there was a massive turnout, particularly in the ward where one of the protest leaders was standing, and the elections were seen as a triumph for the protest movement and for democracy. One of the protest organisers likened the elections to the founding democratic elections of 1994, and commented that the people 6 There is a striking similarity between Zuma s attempt to perform his authority both from within and from outside the state, and the dual role played by the Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thacheray, in India, and I have drawn on Hansen s analysis of this to understand Zuma s performance (Hansen 2001: 227). 13

19 have come out in numbers to choose their leader... the masses have spoken through their mass action last year and now they will exercise their democratic right to vote. In Azania, in contrast, there was effectively a boycott of the elections, with some ANC members campaigning for the PAC candidate, and others refusing to vote. Although the ANC candidate won by a slender margin, many activists felt that the PAC would have won, had they fielded their most popular leader. One ANC member commented that people are losing their hope in the ANC. What accounts for the differences between the two towns? Three factors can be identified. Firstly, the protest movement was unable to shift power in the local ANC and have its own candidates elected. The reason for this is linked to the second factor the strength of the PAC locally, which provides an alternative pole of organisation and identity for many who are frustrated with the ANC. It is very probably this presence of a rival political party that led the ANC national and provincial leadership to support its local councillors and attempt to deliver on their behalf, rather than present a political opportunity for the PAC. Thirdly, the nature of the demand for redemarcating Azania as part of Gauteng lends itself to a boycott, as participating in elections can be seen as legitimating the political status quo. Allied to the dynamics of elections is the question of what happens to the protest leadership and organisation after the resolution of their campaigns? In Kungcatsha, the protest leadership consisted of an informal group of ANC activists, and no autonomous organisational structure was formed. The suspension of the mayoral committee and the by-elections constituted a reconfiguration of power relations in the local ANC, and the activists were reabsorbed into the political structure, leaving no residue of subaltern organisation. In Voortrekker, there was also a reconfiguration of power relations in the ANC with the temporary suspension of the council and senior officials, and their replacement by external administrators, and the CG found itself in a favoured position in relation to the new administrators. Indications were that some of its members were only too eager to grasp the opportunities for access to council funding, work and contracts. Several members resigned, saying that the group had achieved its aims, while others talked of registering it as an NGO, for unclear purposes. There was little sign that it would establish itself as a durable representative of the residents of the town in civil society. In Trouble the protests were insufficiently strong to immediately reconfigure power relations in the ANC. In Azania the protest leadership was splintered. Those in the ANC, including its SACP alliance partner, were marginalised for allying themselves with the PAC, and the status quo was reinforced by the intervention from a national level. Many felt that the PAC presented a real alternative, except that it too was divided, and its most popular leader was marginalised by the nationally dominant faction. The diverse protest leaders were, in other words, primarily political activists, and even when neutralised within their political organisations took no initiative to establish an independent movement in civil society. The exception was a PAC activist, who mooted establishing a civic organisation but with the aim of contesting elections, rather than engaging with the political process from a base in civil society. The general pattern in the case studies of protest movements is that these did not lead to the formation of autonomous organisations in civil society. The local organisational elite, from which the protest leadership is inevitably drawn, is clearly focused on the nexus of power, status and resources, which is constituted by the local town councils, and dominated by the ANC. The ANC itself has sufficiently far-reaching legitimacy to simultaneously present itself as the governing authority within the town councils and as a popular movement outside the state, able at times to represent popular pressure on the state. In this capacity it presents itself as the incarnation of the noble legacy of the liberation struggle, and this, it seems, is a greater source of popular legitimacy than its control of the state, with many protesters drawing a distinction between their support for the ANC and their hostility to the current incumbents of the local state. This leaves little space for the emergence of a genuinely autonomous movement in civil society, as the ANC absorbs the protest leadership, leaving the subaltern classes without a durable organisation. Despite this, though, 14

20 the repertoires of protest remained an active resource among subalterns and, as one of the protesters in Kungcatsha commented, He [the new councillor] knows the process. He was part of the march. If he does not deliver we will also remove him like [the former mayor]. There are, however, three exceptions to this general pattern. In Gladysville and Slovoview, protests were organised by civic associations which have a durable existence for reasons specific to informal settlements, which are explored below and in Section 2. In the formal township of Ndabeni, an independent residents organisation has existed since the early 1990s, and continues to organise protest around housing issues. However, it has a quasi-political dimension, as it also contests local government elections and has three councillors in the Metro Council. Trajectories of xenophobic violence Xenophobic attacks follow a not entirely dissimilar trajectory to community protests. However, there are important distinctions to be made. Firstly, it is more difficult to ascertain who were the key organisers of xenophobic attacks, probably because of the opprobrium and illegality of their actions. Informal groups and networks appear to play a larger role, although formal organisations are also actors. Secondly, while xenophobic attacks exist as adjuncts to many community protests, cases where xenophobic violence is the primary form of collective action are primarily in informal settlements, often with newly built RDP housing sections alongside older shack sections. In these communities, the local state has a remote and ineffectual presence, and state functions with respect to the control of land, policing and the prevention of crime, and the regulation of trading have not infrequently been appropriated by local elites and their organisations. The authority of the law is attenuated, and both elites and community members are accustomed to taking the law into their own hands. Where the state is seen to have failed in its responsibility to regulate immigration and have lost or abandoned its monopoly of coercion, elites and residents adopt coercive practices of their own in an attempt to define citizenship and its limits. 7 In both Gladysville and Slovoview xenophobic violence started with mass meetings. In Slovoview the meeting was explicitly called to discuss the influx of foreign nationals fleeing violence in other areas, whereas in Gladysville the meeting was called to organise a protest march about housing and other services to the local government offices. In both cases the meetings were called by local civic organisations (the SANCO branch in the case of Slovoview), but informants differ over whether the civic leadership explicitly mobilised, or permitted mobilisation, against foreigners, or whether they lost control of the meeting. In Slovoview the crowd left the meeting and barricaded the entrances to the informal section of the settlement to prevent police entry, and moved systematically to identify foreign nationals and expel them. A separate section of the crowd moved deliberately to concentrations of foreign-owned spaza shops, and looted them. In Gladysville, crowds gathered the following day for the protest march, but when this was abandoned they returned to the settlement and began systematically to loot and burn shops owned by foreigners, after which they moved to loot and burn the shacks of foreigners more generally. In both cases the perhaps ambiguous role of formal organisations was supplemented by the role of networks of South African business owners and unemployed young men organised through meetings in taverns. However, once the gangs of young men had broken into shops or shacks, members of the community more broadly, men and women, joined into the looting, not unlike the broad community participation in looting foreign-owned shops during community protests in Azania. As in the community protests, we see crowds within crowds, with leadership passing from formal to informal, as the violence proceeds. The attacks in Trouble started quite differently. It seems that isolated groups of young men started attacking foreign shops, only to be repelled by the military-style weaponry the foreigners had access to. It was only after 7 Misago et al., 2010 reach the same conclusions. See also Monson (forthcoming). 15

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